Live Review : Bluesfest Byron Bay 2015 – Day 1


Bluesfest 2015 Day 1

Review by Wanda Hill

It’s that time of year again when thousands of music lovers make their way to Arakwal Country in the Byron Shire for the annual Easter celebration of all things blues, roots and beyond. It is such a lovely feeling to walk onto the extremely well prepared festival site knowing that there are five days of incredible artists from around the world to be enjoyed amidst a friendly crowd and delicious food.

If Bluesfest Day 1 2015 was a Sesame Street show it would have been brought to you by the letter J and the number 5. In the Mojo tent Los Angeles HipHop geniuses Jurassic 5 were outstanding with their epic mastery of beats and rhyme, capturing the crowd with their exciting stage presence. It was impossible to look away as each song brought totally new elements to their performance. A wearable turntable, drum machine and effects panel took the artists away from a traditional behind the decks situation and well beyond what you would normally expect from a HipHop outfit. J5’s powerful lyrics and dynamic grooves took a hold of the crowds hips and hands and really got the festival vibe started as day transitioned into night. Anticipation is building for a festival highlight on Sunday night when J5 close the show with their 10:30pm slot on the Crossroads stage.

Festival director Peter Noble personally introduced his pick of the day Playing for Change over in the Jambalaya saying that ‘this will be the best band you will see tonight’. For some real New Orleans style blues mixed in with a whole lot of soul and African influences, this is the band you need to see. They are playing every day so don’t miss out on this 12 piece high energy band including the legendary New Orleans street icon Grandpa Elliot singing up a storm and punctuating melodies with his harmonica.

New Orleans not surprisingly, is well represented at this festival. Trombone Shorty and New Orleans Avenue kept the vibe high and funky over at the Mojo with their sublime musicianship taking trombone and bass sax to places they haven’t gone before. Their fusion of styles includes jazz, funk and soul but move well beyond, creating new sounds so expressive with trumpet, trombone and sax as the feature instruments, giving a whole new life to the big, fat and brilliant sound of brass. They have another show tonight at 6pm in the Mojo.

Australia was a crucial flavour in yesterday’s mix of sounds. The beautiful Frank Yamma started the day with his heartfelt music sung in English and Pitjantjatjara soaring through the festival grounds as patrons made their way into the venue providing a perfect way to connect with heart, soul and country while preparing for many more such moving moments in the days ahead. He is playing early today in the intimate Juke Joint venue at 1.15pm and is a must see.

Diesel ‘N Dub have reworked the legendary Midnight Oil album Diesel and Dust into a dub style experience raising spirits and awareness featuring some of Australia’s best singers including the powerful Emma Donovan. This act is on again today at 6pm on the Delta stage and a few more times during festival so check out the still very relevant and important insights of these Midnight Oil songs presented in a whole new genre.

Between the music make sure you taste some of the unique food and beverages on offer in the festival marketplace. The wild plum smoothie made by the Gourmet Goons featuring the local endemic Davidson Plum is my favourite so far. The friendly service with a moustache art smile is hard to beat too.

Have a great day today! Happy Bluesfest 2015.